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More Choices, More Voices: A Primer on Fusion

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Publication Date: January 2006

Publisher(s): Brennan Center for Justice

Author(s): Adam Morse; J.J. Gass

Topic: Politics (Elections and voting)

Keywords: Voting Rights & Elections; Third Party Politics; Democracy


Throughout the nineteenth century, third parties flourished in the United States. What has changed is that the large majority of states have banned fusion, a common nineteenth-century practice that is unheard-of in most of the country today. Fusion, also referred to as cross-endorsement or open ballot voting, is the practice of multiple political parties nominating the same candidate for the same office. Fusion is not a panacea, but it does improve elections. When fusion was widespread, it contributed to a variety of salutary goals, including mobilizing voters, providing expression for underrepresented views, and improving competition. In New York, it continues to improve elections. Other states should learn from the positive example and legalize fusion.